Purpose-built. Fit for purpose. Defeats the purpose. Serves a purpose. Multi-purpose.
Purpose is a part of our everyday vernacular and yet, in business, it’s hugely under-utilised.
A deceptively simple concept when applied to objects – a hammer, say, clearly has purpose – however when an organisation is challenged to define their own purpose, one might be met with blank stares, or worse, a link to the mission vision and values section of their website.
Because – and here lies the tricky part – purpose is more than words on a homepage, or a paragraph in the annual review, or a tagline, or a new logo.
Purpose, quite simply, is the reason an organisation exists.
However finding and articulating it is not so simple—purpose is not synthetic, it cannot be manufactured, made-up or post-rationalised. It is found deep in the heart and roots of an organisation – it’s always there, it is just often hidden or muddled – a result of organisational Chinese Whispers.
But when an organisation’s purpose is found and well communicated, it can be a powerful tool. It has a transformational effect and, moreover, it just feels right.
It feels right for three reasons.
Firstly, a purposeful brand is always honest. It’s certainly not news that businesses today need to be more transparent than ever, but there’s a deeper level of intimacy and insight that can be achieved when honesty is at the fore.
Secondly, it is clear. Not hidden under a mountain of jargon and sales speak, a purposeful brand strips away superfluity and distils complex information. We can understand it.
Finally, a purposeful brand is meaningful. Every organisation has a story to tell, and stories form a natural connection with the people that matter most.
Much more than just a warm and fuzzy ‘nice to have’, purpose is important to an organisation’s entire ecosystem, generating significant positive impact for everything it touches – including the bottom line. In fact, 91% of respondents from a recent Deloitte study who agreed that their company has a firm sense of purpose said their organisation had a history of strong financial performance.
And beyond profits, purpose has the ability to rally the troops around something that really matters – it means you stand for something and, more importantly, you can stand behind it with total conviction.